Today we welcome back mainstream and literary author Rayne E. Golay for a game of 20 Questions. Learn more about Rayne and her books at her website and blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
During the Finno-Russian war when I was a little kid, we suffered shortage of most everything. Books were a luxury. We had the Bible and a couple of books my grandparents and my mother took turns reading. There were also two or three child-appropriate picture books my mother read to me so often that I knew them by heart. As a little girl, I came to understand the difference between the spoken and written word. This together with the book shortage, instilled in me the urge to write so nobody would have to go without books. The urge to write novels came after I read Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. It was a kind of ah-ha moment: I can write books like that.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Much, much too long. While The Wooden Chair, my first novel, made the rounds of agents, I self-published Life is a Foreign Language. It took a while before The Wooden Chair found a publisher.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Hybrid (see above.)
Where do you write?
At home at my desk. From time to time, weather permitting, I move to the lanai and write by the pool.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
My motto is: “Silence, genius at work.” Even soft Baroque music distracts me.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My twenty-five years as addictions counselor are a treasure trove for characters and storylines. The protagonist, Leini, in The Wooden Chair is a composite of two women I counseled. I like to situate my stories in places I know with some alterations to suit the time and the characters. My own life is private, but I use my experiences. As I love to describe my surroundings, I often use a camera to take a shot of a flower, a tree, a waterway. Some of these find their way into my stories when I describe a landscape or set the mood for a scene.
Describe your process for naming your character?
An interesting question. I don’t know that I have a process, per se, but names are important. In Life is a Foreign Language, my male protagonist is Michael because to me the name evokes a masculine, sexy man. The female protagonist is Nina; she’s French, and the name is easy to type.
In The Wooden Chair I never struggled with the names; Leini named herself, it seems. When she meets the man she’ll marry, he introduces himself to her as “Arnaud William Gardet, Bill for short.” Here, again, the name just “happened.”
When I was outlining my WIP, my late husband so liked the story, he named every character, and I haven’t seen a reason to change any of them.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Real settings, places familiar to me.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
In The Wooden Chair, Leini twines a lock of her hair when she’s in thought or upset, not very quirky, but characteristic of her. Her mother Mira chain smokes. In Life is a Foreign Language, Nina tends to tear up a lot, which isn’t very quirky either.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Me? I always fiddle with something like a small piece of paper or a little twig. My fingers are never still.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Without a doubt Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. For the psychotherapist that I am, the characters are wonderfully complex, dysfunctional and unpredictable. The relationship between father and daughter is beautiful. The settings both in Rome and the States are so vivid they jump off the pages.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Everyone? I can’t think of a single thing I wish I could do over. I’ve had a remarkably rich and varied life, really beyond my wildest dreams.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Two peeves: child abusers, and people who are disrespectful, judgmental of others.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My husband, lots of drinking water, and books, books, books.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
In my late teens, I had a summer job in a travel agency as a ticketing clerk. In those days, tickets were written by hand. It was a dumb way to spend a summer, being bawled out for mistakes of which I made a lot, and the pay was ridiculously paltry.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
This is a difficult one. There are so many I’d call the best book. It’s something that changes with age and experience and expectations. A book I really love, that moves me, is Herman Wouk’s The Language God Talks. Despite it’s title, it’s more about philosophy and science than religion. Abreast with this one is The Lawgiver, also by Herman Wouk, about his failed attempts to write the story of Moses.
Ocean or mountains?
City girl or country girl?
A bit of both.
What’s on the horizon for you?
A trip north to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday! Very exciting. After that, three weeks in Geneva, Switzerland, to visit my children, and to Finland to see my brother, his family and my two wonderful cousins. I’ll also attend Public Safety Writers Association’s conference in Las Vegas this summer. A cruise later in the year. Among all this coming and going, I’ll write, of course. It’s such a given part of my daily life, I don’t always think of mentioning that I write.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
The Wooden Chair will be published as trade paper back later this summer, for which I’m very happy and look forward to marketing in a different way than I’ve done with the e-book version. My WIP is soon getting ready for my publisher to look at.
The Wooden Chair
Throughout her childhood and teenage years, Leini suffers both physical and emotional abuse from her mother, Mira. Set in Finland during the Finno-Russian war, the story starts in 1942 when Leini is only 4 years old. With time, Mira’s abuse of Leini turns to neglect and emotional abuse, manipulating her young daughter to have surgery to correct a lazy eye. Leini undergoes the operation, much against her will. The procedure fails with dramatic consequences for Leini.
Years later, married to a wonderful man, Bill, a mother herself, Leini is determined to break the pattern of abuse with her own children. With the help of a psychiatrist, Leini works with determination to heal from the abuse and leave the past behind. She struggles through past painful memories to grow into a nurturing and loving parent and wife, a successful professional. Her victory would be complete if she could forgive Mira. Will she be able to reach that point?